Had Taylor Chastelet not earned one podium finish this year in offshore racing’s Stock class, no one, least of all the 18-year-old driver or his mentor/throttleman Gary Ballough, would have been surprised or disappointed. From the outset of the 2014 season, winning was never the goal for the GB Racing team, which fields a 32-foot Doug Wright outboard-engine-powered catamaran, which was recently sponsored by Top Starz Energy Drink. And yet with second-place finishes at Super Boat International events in Sarasota and Charlotte Harbor, Fla., and wins at the Offshore Powerboat Association-sanctioned Smokin’ The Sound event in Biloxi, Miss., and in the Lake Race on Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, Chastelet and Ballough have exceeded all expectations—especially their own.
“The biggest thing about Taylor is he came here to learn and that was the foundation of what we wanted to do this year,” says Ballough, a multi-time world and national champion in Stock class. “He came with an open mind. He listens, he reacts and he is very aware of what the boat is doing—you don’t find that a lot with new guys. I am proud of his ability to listen and learn. I think that’s what is moving us forward.
“We had seven boats of experienced teams in Sarasota, and we finished second,” he continues. “It probably would have been better than that if I had made a more accurate propeller call—I thought it was going to be flatter and it was rougher than I expected. We were one propeller choice off from it being a real dog fight. I just have to laugh a little bit when I’m out there, wondering how these guys feel knowing there’s an 18-year-old running behind them the whole time.”
Chastelet isn’t letting any of it go to his head. Far from it—he knows that he has a lot more to learn and that he’s racing among some of the most seasoned and skilled offshore racers in the sport. But he’s certainly enjoying every second of his ride with Ballough.
“We have been fortunate to do well in all of our races so far, but you know, aside from those achievements, the best thing is that I am continuing to learn at every race and Gary has been the best coach, ever,” says Chastelet. “All of the racers in this class have been great. They’ve given me tips, they’ve helped with racing lines and everything right down to what I need to write down at the driver meetings. They’ll loan you a part if you need one because they just want to race. They’ll all excellent, and they’re all willing to help.”
Next up for the GB Racing team is the upcoming weekend’s OPA event in St. Clair, Mich. While neither Ballough or Chastelet will make any predictions, based on their record so far this season they’ll be heading there as a viable contender. Regardless of their finishing position, the race is sure to be another learning experience for the pair. Chastelet recalls his father, Gerry, racing in St. Clair in the Super Cat class.
“I’m looking forward to it—I remember my dad racing there when I was little,” he says. “It’s one of those iconic racecourses. It’s a river race, and I’ve heard about its 7-mph current. I’m looking forward to tackling that.”
Matt Trulio is an award-winning journalist who has covered the high-performance powerboat world since 1995. He wrote for Powerboat magazine for 17 years and was the magazine’s editor at large until it ceased publication in 2011. Trulio is the founder, editor-in-chief and publisher of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site that covers the high-performance powerboat realm. He’s also the former editor of Sportboat magazine.